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Monday, January 20, 2014

Super-Bowl-Bound Broncos

I have been a Broncos fan since 1971, when I moved our family to Denver from West Terre Haute, Indiana. Like all Broncos fans. I have experienced disappointment and delight. Yesterday, was one of those delightful experiences. The "good guys" beat the Patriots handily and will face off against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. I expect the Broncos to win, although I like the Seahawks.
I won't travel to NJ for the big game. Frankly, I can't afford the trip and a Super Bowl ticket. 
A Super Bowl ticket will certainly cost more than a ticket for yesterday's AFC Championship game, which was about $900. So I will simply get comfy in my recliner and watch the game on TV. Besides, at-home snacks are much cheaper than stadium snacks, and there's never a line at the restroom.
I find it mystifying that fans pay big money to attend sporting events but avoid church services that allow anyone to attend free and even sit down front, where the choice of seats is usually wide open. Furthermore, even if the home team wins a sporting event, the euphoria lasts only a brief time, whereas the joy that results from attending church and applying a good biblical message lasts beyond a lifetime.
All of that having been said, "Go, Broncos!" 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Facing 2014

Joshua faced a new chapter in his life.  He would lead the Hebrews into Canaan, a bountiful land, but it was also a land full of fierce, well-armed, intimidating enemies. Having scouted Canaan almost 40 years earlier, Joshua knew his mission was extremely challenging. If his knees shook a little, we can understand. However, God commanded him to “be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6). 
Easier said than done? Yes, if Joshua had to face the future on his own, his knees would truly shake. But God promised to be with him and make him successful (verses 3-9). With mind and heart focused on the Word of God and the God of the Word, Joshua would be invincible (verses 8, 9).
Like Joshua, we face a new chapter of life. What will 2014 bring us? And what will we bring to 2014? Fear of terrorism, a final paycheck, ill health, economic disaster, or some other calamity may send shockwaves to our knees unless we rely on God and His promises and obey Him daily. Of course, we may not acquire land, wealth, or perfect health, but we will enjoy God’s peace and His approval (see Philippians 4:6, 7 and 2 Timothy 4:7, 8).
We cannot predict what 2014 will bring, but by faith we can say, “Bring it on!”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Mysteries

An angel told some shepherds they would find Baby Jesus “wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Who provided the swaddling cloths? Perhaps Joseph and Mary had carried them to Bethlehem in case Mary would give birth there. Perhaps the innkeeper provided them. In that case, he may not have been as mean as we have been led to believe. What is truly significant is the fact that cloths covered Jesus’ body when He was born and also when He died (John 19:40).
            The Incarnation is a far greater mystery. Jesus’ life did not begin with His birth at Bethlehem. He is eternal. He always lived in face-to-face fellowship with God the Father. John began his Gospel by asserting that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He described the Word as the One through whom everything was made (v. 3). This eternal Creator, the Word, John wrote, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). Those few words describe the Incarnation. How could God the Creator become a human being like us in every respect except one? He did not have a sin nature, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.
            Of course, Jesus became human and led a sinless life so He could die as our perfect sacrificial Substitute. First Corinthians 15:3 and 4 tell us plainly that “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried . . . and rose again.” His resurrection proved that God accepted His sacrifice for our sins (Romans 4:25). But why did He love us so sacrificially? That’s an unsolvable mystery. We didn’t deserve such love. Romans 5:8 states that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
            Another Christmas mystery: Why do so many people celebrate Christmas but reject the Christ of Christmas? John 1:11 conveys the astonishing, sad news that Jesus, the Word, “came to His own [His own creation and His own people], and His own did not receive Him. If you haven’t received Jesus by faith as your personal Savior, why not receive Him today? The gift of eternal life will be yours (1 John 5:11, 12).
            Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Best Gift Ever

Yesterday a friend gave me a Scottish Black Watch wool tam that he had purchased in Scotland. As a Scottish-born admirer of the Black Watch, I will wear the tam proudly.
My friend paid for the gift, and I received it without having to contribute anything to the purchase price. He had paid for it in full.
Christmas is a celebration of the most costly and most cherished gift God has given to us. The angel who announced the arrival of the Gift, said: “Today . . . a Savior has been born to you.”
Don’t miss the importance of the Christmas message. The virgin-born Son of God came to Earth to save you and me, and He accomplished His mission on the cross. There, He announced, “It is finished,” which is the equivalent of saying, “Paid in full.”
Salvation—forgiveness and eternal life—is a gift that demands nothing from us (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9). Indeed, we can contribute nothing to its purchase. Although church-going, good citizenship, generosity, and kindness are commendable, they cannot pay for even a small part of salvation. 
So what should we do? Just as I received the Black Watch tam joyfully and thankfully, so each of us must accept God’s gift of salvation by receiving Jesus as our Savior. The apostle John wrote that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12).
May you rejoice this Christmas in the wonderful, priceless gift of salvation!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another School Shooting!

Another school shooting—this time in Arapahoe High School! Armed with a shotgun, an angry young man, a senior at the school, intended to shoot the teacher who had dismissed him from the debate team, but upon learning he was targeted, the teacher safely exited the building. In his rage, the shooter critically wounded a 15-year-old female student before taking his own life.

I have always had a high regard for Arapahoe High School. Our family’s first home in Colorado was only a few miles from Arapahoe High. My roommate at Moody Bible Institute spent his entire teaching career there. Also, our son-in-law Jim’s brother teaches and coaches at Arapahoe. Education is serious business there.

In an effort to protect faculty, staff, and students, Arapahoe went on lockdown, and so did many other schools. 

How can we prevent future school shootings? That’s a big question that defies simple answers. Nevertheless, it might help to restore the right to acknowledge and honor God in the classroom. Doesn’t it seem to you that school lockdowns have increased since God has been “locked out”?

It might also help if parents would train their children to reverence and obey God. A proper relationship with God fosters a respectful relationship with others. Yes, what the world needs now is love—love for God and love for others.

Take time to pray for the critically wounded 15-year-old Arapahoe student and for all the students, faculty, and staff.  Also, pray for our nation. We have hurts that only God can heal.